Fighting also surged recently in and around Kunduz, and at the end of last week the city fell to the IEA. When the violence intensified in July, the MSF team converted office space into a 25-bed trauma unit providing care to people injured by explosions, bullets, and shrapnel. From August 1 to 9, the MSF team treated 127 patients for bullet and blast injuries, including 27 children under the age of 16.
MSF continues to provide care in this ad hoc trauma unit but has started to transfer outpatient services to the new Kunduz Trauma Center (KTC), which has been under construction since 2018. We also continue to support the district advanced post in Chahar Dara, a stabilization unit outside Kunduz city, which received 126 war-wounded patients from August 1 to 8.
Adapting to the ebb and flow of conflict
Afghanistan’s health system was struggling before the conflict intensified, and the current violence is making it even more difficult for people to access care. In areas with heavy fighting it is too dangerous for people to leave their homes for medical treatment, or they delay seeking care until they are very sick. We have noted that the numbers of patients in our emergency rooms, COVID-19 treatment center, and outpatient clinics decrease as the violence increases and are adapting accordingly. In Kandahar, where MSF treats patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), we provide patients with remote consultations and extra supplies of medication so they can avoid having to cross front lines.
Medical emergencies, births and chronic conditions do not stop during times of war. During a lull in the fighting in Lashkar Gah, the number of pregnant women seeking care at Boost hospital grew. “We only had one pregnant woman in the hospital,” explains Sarah Leahy, MSF’s Helmand project coordinator. “But the next day, after the fighting died down for a bit, 10 pregnant women managed to reach us, so we know the needs are out there. We’re really worried that women are having to give birth at home with no medical help available if they have complications.”